The Mt. Lebanon resident and Pittsburgh attorney is going head-to-head with incumbent Josh Shapiro.
Enforcing law is different from making law, and Heather Heidelbaugh, believes that current attorney general Josh Shapiro has strayed from his mandated role. “I see him acting as a legislator, which is what he previously was, but that is not the role of the attorney general,” says the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania attorney general. “My chief aim is to work hand-in-glove with district attorneys as a law enforcement officer.”
A resident of Allegheny County’s Mt. Lebanon and a practicing attorney for 36 years, Heidelbaugh is an equity partner at Pittsburgh law firm Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl. She served the legal system through county and state appointments, and she sat on the boards of nonprofits like Goodwill Industries and Carnegie Library. She’s also a Parish Council member of St. John Capistran Roman Catholic Church.
Related article: Q&A: Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro
Whereas Shapiro’s career has been mostly spent in the legislature, Heidelbaugh believes that her decades of experience as a lawyer qualify her for the AG’s office. “Part of the issue is that the current attorney general did not practice law,” she says. “Number two, there’s been a shift in priorities and focus that deviates from what the law says the attorney general can and should do. Pennsylvania is an enormous state, and some district attorneys are in small areas with small budgets. The AG’s office should be instrumental in helping those DAs with their law enforcement needs.”
Heidelbaugh notes that a similar situation exists in Philadelphia. “Philadelphia’s district attorney [Lawrence Krasner] is not enforcing the laws—not all of them,” she says.
Heidelbaugh refers to Krasner’s allegedly soft prosecution of some gun crimes, a stance that resulted in the July 2019 passage of a bill that gave so-called “concurrent jurisdiction” to the Philadelphia DA and state attorney general. Heidelbaugh insists she’d prosecute those gun crimes, and it appears that she’s in agreement with Shapiro. Lawmakers were quoted as saying that he spearheaded the bill’s passage.
Harrisburg politicos also believe that Shapiro has his eyes on the governorship. Gov. Tom Wolf’s second and final term ends in 2022. If elected governor, Shapiro would not serve the next full four-year term of attorney general. “I don’t think it’s fair that, if you want another job, you run for attorney general,” says Heidelbaugh. “The people of Pennsylvania need an active attorney general.”